Monthly Archives June 2016

Microsoft Scoops Up LinkedIn for $26.2B

official_logo_linkedinMicrosoft is scooping up LinkedIn in one of the biggest tech mergers to date. The deal will cost Microsoft $26.2 billion, or $196 per share, all cash. This is Microsoft’s largest ever acquisition.

LinkedIn has a prestigious history. At one point it was the best-performing social network in the stock market, until it was beat out by Facebook. It has a base of 433 million members across the globe, and last year has a revenue growth of 35 percent, reaching $3 billion.

Microsoft plans on using LinkedIn’s database of professional information as a distribution program for its software systems. In return, LinkedIn will gain additional financing and access to millions of people who could join its network.

How might the LinkedIn data help you? Well, say you’re a sales rep using Outlook to compose emails. You could look up the information of someone you’re pitching to while writing the email, without having to leave the window.

If you’re a loyal member of LinkedIn, don’t fret. The service will continue as normal after the deal is closed. Jeff Weiner, LinkedIn’s CEO, is keeping his job and will be reporting to Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella.

“The LinkedIn team has grown a fantastic business centered on connecting the world’s professionals,” Nadella was quoted as saying in a CNN story. “Together we can accelerate the growth of LinkedIn, as well as Microsoft 365.”

Should the CRTC Get Out of Telecom?

Schooley Mitchell complaintsFederal Conservative Party leadership candidate Maxime Bernier thinks the Canadian Radio-television Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) should be cut out of the telecom business. He said the agency has a “control freak mindset” which impedes investment and sustainable competition. Bernier is known as a long-time advocate for telecom deregulation.

“It’s not the role of the CRTC or the government to decide how this increasingly complex market should evolve,” Bernier was quoted as saying. “It’s up to the producers and consumers.”

How would deregulation even begin? Bernier believes the federal Department of Innovation, Science, and Economic Development could take over the CRTC’s more necessary telecom functions, such as 911 and the do-not-call list. He suggested reversing policies that allow preferential set-asides of airwave spectrum. He would also scrap last year’s decision to force major telecom providers to sell space on their high-speed networks to smaller rivals.

“Forcing some providers to share their networks will not do anything to increase investments, and ultimately won’t do anything to sustainably bring better and less expensive services to consumers,” said Bernier.

However, the decision in question was hailed by advocacy groups such as OpenMedia.ca, who called it the “first step towards ensuring small independent ISPs are able to sell fibre internet in Canada, which should expand access and affordability to users.”

While Bernier may not be completely right, he is not completely wrong either. Canada has some of the most expensive service prices, and companies like Bell and Rogers have a large monopoly on the telecom market. So does the CRTC need to be phased out or just reformed?

*Source: The Toronto Star

Powerball App Bringing Lotto to Your Smartphone

autolottoIt’s already pretty easy to buy a lottery ticket; all you really have to worry about is losing the physical copy. The new AutoLotto Powerball app is making the whole process even more accessible and instant, allowing players to purchase, play, and redeem lottery tickets all from their smartphone. They even get their first ticket free.

As of now, it is only available in New Hampshire, but easily has the potential to launch nationally. There’s no question about its future popularity: 166,000 users previously signed up and were on the waiting list for AutoLotto, which went live in the Apple App Store on June 7. Lotteries such as Powerball and Mega Millions represent a $70 billion industry, so it was only a matter of time before an app like AutoLotto came to fruition.

Right now, AutoLotto users are restricted to one ticket with quick pick numbers per Powerball draw, but that will eventually increase to 20 tickets with custom-picked numbers. It also plans to add a group buying feature.

Gambling is tricky business, and rightfully so. That’s why AutoLotto cofounders Matt Clemenson and Tony DiMatteo say they will work with state lottery commissions, lottery directors, offices of the governor and attorney general, as well as other relevant legislators before bringing in new states.

“We’re not here to ‘disrupt’ the industry. We seek formal acknowledgement that we are not in conflict with existing laws before we operate. We provide a service that helps state lottos and retailers, and people who enjoy playing,” DiMatteo was quoted as saying in a TechCrunch article.

Verizon Interested in Yahoo Internet Biz

verizonVerizon hopes to expand into a new domain by submitting a second-round bid of $3 billion for Yahoo’s core internet business. Verizon has made it clear that it is not looking to buy all of Yahoo – it has no interest in patents, real estate, or other such assets.

The amount Verizon is pledging was predicted by the Wall Street Journal, which reported the bid would be between $2 billion and $3 billion. However, as of April, Yahoo’s web properties were estimated to sell for between $4 billion and $8 billion, so the Verizon bid is considerably lower. Not unexpectedly, Yahoo is expected to enter in a third round of bidding.

Verizon acquired AOL last year for $4.4 billion, making the potential Yahoo purchase a sensible move. The telecom giant would likely use Yahoo’s web base of over a billion actively monthly users to expand its growing online ad business.

*Source: Reuters

Zuckerberg’s Online Profiles Hacked

By Elaine Chan and Priscilla Chan (CC BY 2.5  via Wikimedia Commons)

By Elaine Chan and Priscilla Chan (CC BY 2.5 via Wikimedia Commons)

Online accounts are compromised every day, yet many of us think it could never happen to us. Think again. Over the weekend, Facebook tycoon Mark Zuckerberg was the victim of an attack that saw hackers gain access to his Twitter, LinkedIn and Pinterest profiles. If one of the most tech savvy entrepreneurs can find himself in this situation, none of us are immune.

There has been plenty of speculation as to how the crooks got access, including suggestions Zuckerberg was caught up in the 2012 LinkedIn hack and used the same password for multiple sites. The good news is his Facebook account was untouched. Some media reported his Instagram account was also compromised; however, a TechCrunch article states the photo-sharing platform’s security systems stopped the intrusion.

No real damage was done before the accounts were reclaimed, though the group – which called itself “OurMine” – did post a few messages.
Zuckerberg and his Facebook PR machine have been quiet in the wake of the cyber attacks and have declined to comment.

A Quarter of Users Abandon Apps After One Try

Available_on_the_App_Store_(black)There are a lot of apps in the world, and nobody has the time or space for all of them. The iTunes App Store is host to more than 1.5 million applications, while Google Play has over 2 million. The number of available apps could be overkill – a recent study found one in four users download an app and only use it once.

The Localytics study looked at a user base of 37,000 people and found that 62 percent of them will use an app less than 11 times. That’s not good news for developers, since it is a clearly unsustainable business model.

App abandonment seems to be a rising trend. In 2014, only 20 percent of users only used an app once; that number rose to 26 percent in 2015, and improved slightly this year, dropping to 23 percent.

Localytics also found there are solutions to improve user retention. Apps that use push notifications, in-app messages and other such techniques not only had more monthly active users but had user retention of 46 percent.

This decline in app usage is causing many companies to rethink how they present applications. For instance, Google is considering a process called “Instant Apps” which will allow users to launch an app and test it out immediately by clicking a URL. That could be really helpful for users who get frustrated by searching for and downloading applications they may only use a handful of times.

*Source: Tech Crunch

Periscope Calls in the Jury

periscopePeriscope is taking a democratic approach to the punishment of abusive commentators, assembling a makeshift social media jury to deal with possible abuse.

When a comment on a Periscope broadcast is flagged, a handful of users will be asked to vote on whether they believe the comment breaks Periscope’s terms of use. If the majority agrees the comment is spam or abuse, the person who posted it will be muted temporarily. If a user gets flagged and “found guilty” twice they will be permanently disabled from commenting on that rest of the broadcast. Periscope says users called to be on its jury should only expect the process to take a few seconds.

If you don’t want to be subject to Periscope justice, broadcasters can turn off moderated comments through the settings tab. As well, users have the right to opt out of voting on potentially abusive comments.

“There are no silver bullets, but we’re committed to developing tools to keep Periscope a safe and open place for people to connect in real-time,” reads Periscope’s blog post. “We look forward to working closely with you and everyone else in the community to improve comment moderation.”